- Social Media Marketing Success
- By Bob DeStefano — posted 06/06/2011
If you follow the latest trends in online marketing, and maybe even if you don’t, you are probably hearing plenty of buzz about social media. Marketing professionals throughout the world are praising social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter as the answer to all of our marketing prayers.
So what is social media marketing and should you jump on the bandwagon? In this article, my goal is to separate the hype from the helpful in social media marketing so you can figure out if your business should dive in and integrate social media into your marketing mix. I also will provide you with the secret to social media marketing success so you will be prepared if and when you decide to take the plunge.
What is Social Media Marketing?
There is a lot of confusion about social media marketing and its various components so let’s first define two terms:
• Social media is a broad term used to describe information created in text, image, audio, and video forms that can be easily shared and distributed online.
• Social networks are online destinations that allow people to share social media with their followers, friends, and connections.
Thus, social media marketing involves leveraging social networks to share relevant and interesting social media content with your network of fans, followers, and connections. Social media marketing campaigns typically focus on creating compelling content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks.
A simple way to understand social media marketing is to think of it as public relations. However, instead of pitching the media, you are pitching your peers. By sharing useful and relevant content with members of your network, your message can achieve a tremendous reach as your network shares your content with members of their networks, who shares it with members of their networks, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Content, Not Product
The secret to success in social media marketing is to stop marketing your products and services. You need to stop thinking you are only in the business of cleaning products and services. You are also in the business of knowledge. You need to market your specialized knowledge to demonstrate to prospects and customers that you are the expert in your field. In other words, you need to become a content marketer.
Content marketing involves creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage clearly defined target audiences with the goal of driving action. Content marketing needs to serve as the cornerstone of your social media marketing strategy—creating educational items that are considered interesting, relevant and useful by your prospects and customers. The following social media should serve as your content marketing backbone:
• Articles are a fantastic content marketing tool. By creating 500- to 1,000-word educational articles that address a best practice, for example, you can showcase your expertise and demonstrate to your customers that you understand their needs.
• Blog Posts are insightful and timely Web content highlighting important insights, industry news, observations, and other useful content. Readers of your blog posts are encouraged to share their comments, allowing for a two way dialogue. Your blog should be updated regularly with at least one new post per week. Blog posts offer a great opportunity to keep your Web site content current and relevant.
• Presentations created in PowerPoint or similar software, can be used to create educational presentations that are oriented toward a particular industry challenge, best practice, training topic. These presentations can be five to 50 pages in length–whatever it takes to make your point.
• Whitepapers are topical, educational reports or guides that are oriented toward a particular industry challenge, opportunity, or best practice. Generally, whitepapers are eigth to 15 pages in length and can really help you demonstrate thought leadership on issues that are important to your customers.
• E-Books are like whitepapers on steroids. They generally range from 20 to 50 pages and present complex information in a compelling and entertaining way.
• Videos that demonstrate a product, illustrate a best practice, allow customers to see your company behind the scenes, etc. are worth a million words. Online videos do not have to be professionally produced–a simple flip camera will work well. The key is to film content your customers will find useful and actionable.
• Webinars are seminars conducted over the Web that participants can easily view from their office or home—either live or on-demand. Most Webinars include a visual slide presentation as well as an audio broadcast that is accessed either over the computer or phone. Generally, Webinars are 30 minutes to 90 minutes in length and can include an interactive portion to respond to attendee questions.
• Podcasts are audio content that people can listen to on your Web site or download and listen to on their MP3 devices, like iPods. Podcasts are easy to produce and provide an opportunity for you to speak directly to your audiences and share your knowledge.
Your Web site should serve as the hub of your content marketing efforts. Create great content in a variety of social media formats, publish them on your Web site and use the following social networks to spread the word.
LinkedIn – The Business Network
LinkedIn is the most ‘professional’ of the major social networking Web sites with more than 100 million professionals, half of which are based in the United States. Since it is largely focused on business-to-business connections, LinkedIn should be a big part of your social media marketing strategy. At its most basic level, LinkedIn allows you to setup a personal profile and connect with other professionals you know or want to know. Then, your “connections” will receive status updates on a regular basis as you update your profile.
LinkedIn is a great content marketing tool. In addition to information about your work experience and education, your LinkedIn profile can be enhanced to showcase your social media content, including status updates with links to your Web site, blog posts, presentations, events, videos and other content. In addition, by participating in LinkedIn groups, such as ISSA—The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association group, you can share your social media with your target audiences even if they are not one of your direct connections.
Facebook – The Social Network
Facebook is by far the largest social networking Web site with more than 500 million registered users. Its user base is so large that if Facebook was a country, it would rank third largest in population behind China and India. For the most part, Facebook is a place for friends—providing a platform for friends to connect (or reconnect) and share ideas, happenings, photos, videos, and other information. It also offers a bunch of widgets and apps that you can integrate into your Facebook page to make it more engaging.
While it is not primarily designed as a business tool, you can use Facebook as a content marketing tool. As a business, you can create a Facebook page for your company, a public destination that all of your customers can easily access. Your Facebook business page can serve as a valuable outpost, allowing you to bring your valuable social media content directly to your customers. Just remember to always direct them back to your Web site for more information.
Twitter – The Network for Shouting
Twitter is the fastest growing social network with more than 175 million registered users since its launch 2006. Twitter is a place for shouting ideas, providing a fast-paced platform for you to broadcast 140 character messages, called “tweets” to your “followers.” People can choose to follow you and receive updates on all your tweets. The major differences between Twitter and other social networking Web sites is that you do not need other people’s permission before you can follow them and the limited character count.
While it is not as targeted as the other social networking sites, Twitter can still serve as a content marketing tool. Build a following and start tweeting compelling messages to tout your social media content. Provide links back to the content on your Web site, using services like Bit.ly to shorten the links. Finally, include appropriate “hashtags” (e.g., #cleaning and #maintenance) in your messages so your tweets can be found by other people interested in the hashtag topics.
Bob DeStefano, president of SVM E-Business Solutions, is an online marketing strategist and professional marketing speaker with over 15 years experience helping industrial companies leverage online marketing to produce bottom-line results. He can be reached by calling 1-877-786-3249 x3 or on the Web at www.svmsolutions.com or www.bobdestefano.com.
If you are interested in learning more about how to do more with less, visit www.svmsolutions.com/analysis or call SVM at (877) 786.3249 x3 and request a free Web site Assessment.